Link Between Self-Consciousness and Depression in Children

self-conscious teen girl
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Broody, introspective, self-conscious and self-absorbed: Does this ever sound like your child with depression? While many adolescents and teens may seem a little self-absorbed at times, research supports a relationship between depression and an increased self-focus.

Depressed people, in general, tend to think about themselves, examine their personalities, mull over their feelings and question their motives more than non-depressed people do.

How Self-Consciousness Manifests in Children 

While it may seem counter-intuitive that a person struggling with depression would be self-absorbed, the reality is that depressed people may have a heightened sense of self-consciousness.

Self-consciousness, or a negative sense of self-awareness, may increase negative emotional states, such as sadness, hopelessness or anger, and cause a person to focus on setbacks and negative experiences in life, such as a poor grade on a test or a disagreement with a friend.

A depressive state can be hard for a child to escape from. Negative thoughts, self-consciousness, and negative emotions tend to be cyclic, leading to more negative thoughts and feelings—which is why children always need help to recover from a depressive episode. Having a depressed child get counseling may help him overcome this state of mind or cope with it in the least detrimental way possible.

When Self-Consciousness Is a Symptom of Depression

It is important to know that not all children who are self-absorbed or self-conscious are depressed. In fact, most children have periods when they are definitely self-absorbed and self-conscious. This is a normal stage of child development. However, it is important to seek help for your child if you believe her episodes of self-consciousness are extreme or long-lasting. This may signal that your child is, indeed, suffering from depression.

Signs of Depression

If you are unsure whether your young one has a mental health problem, review the following symptoms of depression in children. Your child may only exhibit some of these symptoms, but if you are concerned about his mental well-being, don't hesitate to consult a mental health professional.

  • Academic decline
  • Extreme shyness
  • Vague and unexplained physical symptoms
  • Extreme sadness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Sleep and appetite pattern changes
  • Feelings of guilt

If you think that your child is depressed, don't try to diagnose the condition yourself. Talk to her pediatrician or other mental health providers about an evaluation. An accurate diagnosis and treatment are essential for the recovery of depression in children.

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Article Sources

  • Ingram, R.E. Self-Focused Attention in Clinical Disorders: Review and a Conceptual Model. Psychological Bulletin. 1990; 107(2): 156-176.
  • Jonathon D. Brown. The Self. New York: McGraw-Hill; 1998